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Legal precedent set in landmark case of estate agents withholding information

Estate Agents failed to inform buyers of a nearby mine shaft

A subsidiary of Countrywide estate agents has been found guilty of failing to disclose information which may have put potential buyers off. Wrexham Council Trading Standards took Beresford Adams to court following a complaint filed in 2011 in the Rhos area. Beresford Adams were found guilty of not disclosing to buyers the existence of a mine shaft very near to the property. The complainant took out an expensive survey and search which discovered the old mine, but this should not have been necessary as it was revealed that Beresford Adams already knew about the mine shaft. The buyer had even had an offer accepted for the property but this was withdrawn when they discovered the mine. Beresford Adams were forced to pay a fine of £3,500, compensation to the complainant of £515, and the council’s legal costs amounting to £5,000.

The case, which was brought under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008, is being seen as an important precedent. Councillor David Griffiths, lead member for health and social care at the council, said:

“This is a welcome decision that supports the view that house buyers should be protected as consumers in just the same way as all other consumers.

“For almost everybody, buying a house is the single biggest financial transaction they will ever make and it is vital that those who are in business selling homes act professionally by not only giving true and accurate information but also by not withholding relevant significant information.”

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